Human Connection and Opioid Use

Imagine an incredibly effective treatment for the deadliest disease the world has ever seen. This treatment would save thousands of lives from a disease taking the lives of millions around the world yearly. A disease brought down by just a few simple steps. Try to picture a treatment easy to administer, accessible almost anywhere, and most importantly, totally free.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Possibly! However, depending on your situation, this treatment may be a reality. Even for those struggling with harsher addictions. Though it seems simple, this treatment is the best option for those struggling with substance abuse. This treatment, though maybe hard to find right now, is sincere, consistent, healthy relationships.

According to a new initiative from UTHealth, the idea of human connection plays a huge role in addiction recovery.

At least 130 people die every day from opioid abuse in the United States

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston began this program with a specific goal. Moreover, the idea was to reach out to those struggling with Opioid Abuse Disorder in a productive way. Doing so by talking with them in person.

Run by Dr. James Langbeer, this programs intention was to provide support for sufferers outside of the hospital setting.

“People with OUD don’t always voluntarily seek treatment like you would with any other disease. Even if they recognize they need help, there are few places for them to turn, especially if they don’t have insurance. We want to remove all those barriers and bring help directly to them at a time when they are more likely to accept it.” said Langbeer.

90% of all people who have substance abuse disorder in the U.S. are not currently in treatment

Opiate addiction is one of the most terrifying and challenging trials a person can face. The danger of constantly abusing opioids along with wondering where you will get your next fix is never a pleasant experience.

Don’t forget the mood swings, withdrawals, and lack of feeling in control. Not to mention the stigma that comes along with the disease itself, and the frustration of trying to stay sober.

Luckily, with this research program, Dr. Langbeer is optimistic about the pathway to a solution.

“Having one third of people we reached out to agree to a major step in their recovery while we are in their doorway is a huge accomplishment and much better than we expected, since other studies have shown far lower results, recognizing that major life decisions require time, we are extremely satisfied with the results. Also, we’ve seen people choose to come into treatment weeks or even months later, so the information we provide during outreach can also help shape future choices.”

For one to conquer their addiction, they must ensure all their needs are being met. This includes having social relationships and human connection.

This idea of human connection being a treatment for OUD and other substances is nothing new. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Bruce Alexander, a Canadian psychologist, developed a study about the nature of addiction.

The experiment, later named “Rat Park” involved taking two cages, one filled with multiple rats, the other with only a single rat. In addition, Dr. Alexander filled each cage with food, water, and an addictive substance.

To summarize, the lone rat with a cage to himself partook in the addictive substance until overdose. However, the rats with company never partook of the addictive substances. Not even one time.

In short, the need for social interaction in our lives is a basic need for survival. For one to conquer their addiction, they must ensure all their needs are being met. To clarify, this includes having social relationships and human connection.

Notwithstanding, the stigma of addiction hovers over every person abusing substances consistently. Alarmingly, this stigma prevents each person facing this affliction from truly connecting with others.

In fact, addictions tend to make someone isolate themselves due to shame or fear of persecution. Thus, leading to the sheer amount of deaths we see every day from substance abuse. The very thing a person needs when struggling with addiction an environment with people who are willing to show understanding, empathy, and support.

“You catch more flies with honey.”

In conclusion, this “imaginary” treatment for opioid use disorder, as well as other substance abuse disorders, isn’t so imaginary after all. The treatment is easy, completely free, and accessible to anyone.

The evidence of its effectiveness has been seen through studies and programs built around the idea. Similarly, it seems like there wouldn’t be an epidemic of drug and alcohol abuse or OUD because of this knowledge we have.

However, the stigma of abuse prevents the love others give from influencing and helping those struggling. Consequently, this prevents them from getting the care they need. Even though this is under our control.

In other words, in our communities, there must be more compassion around the topic of substance abuse. If anything, showing empathy, understanding, and love consistently can vastly improve someones chances of reaching full recovery.

Never more critical to easing a sufferers agony is the presence of someone saying “I know how you feel. Can I help?”.

Treatment Centers Provide a Positive Environment of Recovery

Armed with this information, treatment centers have built a positive and supportive recovery community. They understand that through the process of drug and alcohol treatment, patients need to feel a true sense of belonging to the community that they are in. Treatment centers strive to treat patients with unconditional love and compassion no matter what they are going through.

We know that the stigma that comes along with addiction can weigh heavy on the shoulders of a person in recovery. The feeling of not fitting in with the world is common. Drug and alcohol treatment programs emphasize the importance of belonging and feeling as though you have a true and deep connection with those around you.

As a result, lifelong friendships with unbreakable bonds are created.

Get Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love is suffering from a substance use disorder, please give us a call. We can connect you with a treatment center that will the utmost care and help. We have a community of those suffering from the same things. A community of support and relief. Talk to one of our specialists today. We can show true compassion.

About the Author 


Michael Tavernier

Michael Tavernier is a Content Writer and Editor living in Mesa, Arizona. Dedicating himself to social causes, he is passionate about helping those around him. He thinks the best things in life are self love, family, a cozy house, and a good dog.

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